Recent comments

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Consider a short and incomplete list of 20th-century liberal triumphs, all vehemently opposed by conservatives at the time: the Federal Reserve System; women's suffrage; federal deposit insurance; Social Security; the investor protections of the Securities Acts of 1933 and `34; public power; unemployment compensation; the minimum wage; child labor laws; the 40-hour work week; the Wagner Act, which gave private-sector workers collective bargaining rights; the Civil Rights Act; the Voting Rights Act; federal fair housing laws; Medicare; federally sponsored guaranteed student loan programs; and Head Start. Sandi: Don't try to turn "liberal" into a dirty word. You bet your bippy I'm a liberal. Every ounce and every inch of me; and proud of it.

    Conservative wisdom:
    "You've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord"?
    - Rev. Jerry Falwell

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Fortunately it fell naturally, not due to some idiot, like that artist who set fire under one of them.

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Wow! What a courageous series of comments by experienced folks who know whereof they speak. I appreciate all of your candor.

    I think the funding and staffing problems are key. Nearly every NPS office I come in contact with is down a significant number of staff from earlier periods. There comes a point when you cannot carry out your mission when people are harassed and overburdened all the time. Morale suffers, and time cannot be spent doing anything but putting out the latest fire, which doesn't encourage longer-term thinking, planning, research, creativity, or thoughtful and patient visitor contact. The huge staffing deficit seems to be affecting every corner of NPS work. Even if you are going to carry out some work via partnerships, contracting, or other means, there is no substitute for a full staff of knowledgeable professionals within NPS to guide and coordinate the work. I know that there are lots of people out there (young, and not-so-young) who *are* committed to the NPS mission and have the skills and expertise that they would love to bring to NPS. But with the exception of seasonal positions, there seem to be few jobs, and that *is,* I think, fundamentally a money issue.

    Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph.D.
    Historian & Author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History
    Chapel Hill, NC

  • Commentary: What Would An Economic Stimulus Package for the National Parks Buy Us?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    First, I would like to commend Kurt on his outstanding picture of Mesa Verde National Park. I've never been there, and the picture has convince me I should go.

    I don't understand why we need a stimulus package to get ADA compliance for national park restrooms. Seems to me when the federal government passes rules, that they should budget compliance for all federal facilities including National Parks.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Anonymous wrote:

    I submit that guns are very effective on offense, somewhat less so on defense.

    I suggest you read Professor Gary Kleck, an award-winning criminologist cited in DC v. Heller.

    The data "show that, far from defensive gun use endangering them, gun-armed victims who resist robbery or rape are injured far less often than either those who resist with other weapons or than those who submit. Gun-armed victims are also much less likely to be robbed or raped than those who take Handgun Control's advice never to resist."

    Do you have any suggested reading for your claim, Anonymous?

  • Photography in the Parks: How To Solve Exposure Problems in Snowy Landscapes   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Thanks for a timely and informative article.

    Cold weather does present its own set of photographic challenges, but too many of us tend to leave our cameras indoors during the winter. Some of my favorite shots were taken on a December visit to Nome, Alaska, but at -21F I found after the first few minutes I didn't spend quite as much time composing every shot!

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Ray -

    Thanks for a good reminder from someone with first-hand experience that no defensive measure, including bear spray, is without its risks, and safe handling and use of the product is essential.

    I think the most important part of your comment is the last sentence:

    My concern is that people carrying pepper spray or firearms may have a false sense of security and take unnecessary chances.
    .

    The best defense against bears or any other threat is education about proper behavior in any environment - and then using good judgment based on that information. My experience was that a significant percentage of injuries or deaths in parks (and anywhere else for that matter) were the result of poor decisions by people.

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I totally agree with Frank N. Yellowstone/Tetons are far away from me but very near and dear to my heart.

    Each National Park has its own issues and should be resolved by the park folks (including scientists !) who know most about its issues......remembering that they belong to all of us and were created for their protection of the natural beauty/features/flora & fauna !

  • Photography in the Parks: How To Solve Exposure Problems in Snowy Landscapes   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Another aspect in addition to your last hint: Underexposure usually can be corrected pretty well after the shot on your computer. But overexposure means that the white is flared out, details are lost and can't be resurrected. So if 2.5 stops looks good on the camera display, it might be wise to take another shot with just 2.0 or 1.5 and check out the details at home on your larger and maybe even calibrated monitor. There you can increase the brightness easily to just the point where white becomes white but the details are preserved.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Pepper spray can result in unexpected problems. I have experienced the results of an accidental discharge of pepper spray and can testify to its extremely painful and disorienting effects. I flew light aircraft for the National Park Service in Alaska including moving persons to and from remote sites. I banned the carrying of pepper spray inside the plane allowing it only in compartments of the floats where leakage or a discharge would be harmless. Believe me, if a can of bear spray goes off, even in a tiny amount, while you are flying or even driving a car the chances are that you will crash. I would also caution that you carefully note the direction the wind is blowing before using the spray. It can blow back into your face.

    I hiked and camped in bear country for many years and had several close encounters with bears, both brown and black. Sadly, I had to use a firearm twice in response to serious attacks. The great majority of bear approaches are bluff charges where the bear does not intend to cause injury. My concern is that people carrying pepper spray or firearms may have a false sense of security and take unnecessary chances.

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    College kids? Like the ones I've seen who have terrible person hygiene and wrinkled uniforms? The ones who answer "yeah dude," and "nah" instead of "Yes Sir" (and Ma'am)? The ones who can't count money without a calculator? I'm sick of seeing these KIDS reflecting poorly on the NPS.
    I agree with Warren Z, lets get some mid-life older adults who want another career, and veterans who know how to talk to people and have learned the definition of accountability and responsibility. Ones who will wear the uniform with pride!

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    When liberals like Frank N refer to goofy TV shows like "West Wing" ya know they are in deep trouble with their argument. Garbage in, garbage out.
    Uh...pssst...Frank...West Wing is produced by flaming liberals!

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Ya NAILED it, Frank C!!!!

  • Yellowstone National Park's Wolf Population Down More than 25 Percent   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Can't they inoculate the wolves against distemper as well as giving them rabies shots at the same time to control both diseases. This will give us a healthier population. Before anyone complains that we are messing with nature we already have that's why their populations are low in the first place. We exterminated them and then brought them back.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Frank C: The goal of law enforcement officials is to "get the drop" on criminals, just as the goal of criminals is to "get the drop" on their victims. I submit that guns are very effective on offense, somewhat less so on defense.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Frank N. wrote:

    Guns do not stop crime.

    And conversely, banning guns doesn't stop crime.

    And if guns really do not stop crime, I suggest all law enforcement park rangers give up their Glocks. Oh, yeah. It's a twist on the ol' favorite: Guns don't stop crime. Park rangers stop crime.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Kurt –

    Here's some information on the shelf-life for bear pepper spray from a paper ("Bear Pepper Spray: Research and Information") by Dr. Tom Smith, who at the time was at the USGS Alaska Science Center. I'd rate him as one of the top bear researchers in the country:

    Know how old your can of bear pepper spray is and discard it when the manufacturer’s published shelf life expires. Safety in bear country is serious business so why trust your well-being to an old, out-dated can of bear spray? As I understand it, the chemicals used in bear pepper spray are stable over time (i.e., contents are good for quite a few years), but that the seals holding the pressurized contents in the can age and will eventually fail, resulting in leaks. So what is the shelf life? I recently browsed a number of bear pepper spray web sites (June 2003) and found that most did not post their product’s shelf life, although a couple did ( e.g., Frontiersman and Counter Assault have shelf lives of 4 years). If the date of manufacture is labeled on the can you are in good shape, but if not, you might do well to write the date on the bottom of the can for future reference. Occasionally I see some very old, nearly empty cans of bear pepper spray out on the trails in Alaska. My peace of mind and personal safety are worth more than that.

    I'd say use your '91 vintage can for practice, or as a demo for someone who needs a chance to become familiar with how the spray works :-)

    The best news is you've had it this long and didn't need it!

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    GlenW:

    My suggestions for recruitment of passionate believers in all aspects of the NPS mission is not limited only to college kids. There are many folks in America seeking a second or third career that could bring fresh perspectives into all levels of the NPS. But I agree with you. Both the Youth Conservation Corps and the Student Conservation Association do a great job getting young folks into the parks, and we need a more programs just like them.
    Why should the over 40 crowd be given the Volunteers In Parks program as their only option?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Well said, Frank N!

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Frank N, the vehicle for NPS Director to deal with bison would be to insist that the Yellowstone superintendent withdraw NPS's participation in the Interagency Bison Management Plan until a plan that can be developed that is consistent with NPS's mission. That plan must be transparent and have an important seat for the general public as well as the tribal communities, and it must have as its immediate goal the establishment of year round habitat in Montana. Yellowstone in particular is being hurt by having these animals stuck on the Northern Range and the interiors of the park. If Yellowstone the wildlife zoo were allowed to spill out, our favorite place would grow to become even more beautiful.

    I agree that the bison issue and related wildlife issues must be a priority and more so than winter use, though if we can make that go away just to shed light on these other issues, I'd be for it. Morale does strike me as low among those rangers I've met in large part because of buffalo (though admittedly, that's how I tend to meet rangers - in passing because of my work organizing on the issue). Also, it's just more acute. Buffalo are dying now, you know?

    The other issue I'd like to see NPS address is tolerance for homeless populations in the city parks under its purview, especially in Washington, DC. While they aren't rounding up the homeless and shipping them to slaughter, the lack of respect is just as palpable. That is, I don't want NPS to be a law enforcement agency first and foremost, but in all these issues we are touching on, that seems to be the driving emphasis - management is essentially an issue of control, not an issue of respect and stewardship.

    Also, the permit regulations for free speech in Yellowstone are draconian. Those have to go and anywhere else where they are similar.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • University Researchers Suggest Solution To Yellowstone National Park's Bison Problem   5 years 48 weeks ago

    I went on my first ski patrol ever with Buffalo Field Campaign on Saturday. I didn't see any bison on the western edge of the park out by Duck Creek. It was quite an education to see how close the trap was to the boundary of the park (and in the north, the trap is actually INSIDE the park). The snow isn't particularly deep for this time of year, and last year was such a cruel year.

    Today, a couple of my friends from BFC are staying with my family in Bozeman; they are attending the Board of Livestock meetings, where tomorrow brucellosis is on the agenda. They don't have particularly high hopes for the meeting; news recently is that a management zone around Yellowstone is getting push back from some stockgrowers groups and an increasing number of state vets.

    We have known for a long time that even if you aren't an ideologue like me who wants to see bison roam free all the way back into their historic range that there are pragmatic solutions for people who want something in between. Brucellosis need not be a bugaboo for ranchers; what is the bugaboo are outdated APHIS rules that penalize them unfairly for a relatively harmless disease that is easy to contain. Fences could be built in the few areas where cattle are. Year round tolerance is possible in the many areas where cattle are not. Negotiations could be made on a rancher by rancher basis (several wouldn't mind seeing bison on their property), and bison could be managed as are other wildlife.

    Now, of course, once the boundary shifts, people like me are certainly what the stockgrowers worry about - people who will continue to push the boundaries and challenge a way of life that uses cows as a commodity to use over the land. But, frankly, they worry too much - there aren't a lot of people like me. They'd be better off cutting people like me off from the majority of people around here who think that their stance is extremely unreasonable. However, when you control the levers of power, as the stockgrowers do in Montana despite their lack of similar influence on the overall economy of our states, there's not much incentive to change. Cost isn't the issue; power over the land is. Therefore, the outrageous cost is worth it to those who hold the power and see the price as a way of maintaining their power and their own bizarre notions of what the land should allow.

    Jim Macdonald
    Buffalo Allies of Bozeman
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Thanks for your post Warren Z. I think recruiting and hiring more college students through a paid intership program, especially geogrpahy and anthropology majors, would help bring enthusiastic NPS employees.
    As for Roger (not verified). Allowing the public to carry firearms into parks is likely to create more problems than it may solve. Seems that the noise and fumes produced by the snowmobiles I've been around, by those characteristics, makes them invasive.

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Certainly each National Park has its own unique problems that need to be addressed. As a resident of the GYE I have a vested interest in the Parks there. Two issues I would like to see settled once and for all are the snowmobile and bison issues. Anyone who believes that snowmobiles have a place in Yellowstone should take a snowshoe (or CC ski) trip in the park when eight or ten of these machines whizz by. The way bison are treated, both inside and outside of park boundaries, when attempting to migrate to winter forage is a national outrage.
    When decisions regarding such things as snowmobile use, keeping Sylvan Pass open during the winter etc., they should be made according to best available science; not politics. And they certainly should not be made based upon how the decision effects a few local businesses or ranchers. These are National Parks.
    Many, if not most, Park Service employees I am acquainted with are disgruntled. One told me that he did not join the Park Service to harass wildlife, round them up and ship them off to slaughter, as he has been ordered to do with bison. He joined to protect wildlife and other resources. I would think that moral would be high on the priority list.

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 48 weeks ago

    Infrastructure should be Job 1. Nothing can be done about climate change. Guns rights are protected by the 2nd Amendment; the only change to be made is to make no unconstitutional restrictions on where one can carry.
    Snowmobiles are non-invasive as long as laws already on the books are enforced to protect wildlife, etc.

  • Forget the Camp, Send Your Kid to Yellowstone National Park This Summer   5 years 48 weeks ago

    What a great project. When I was a pre-teen, I went to Quonset Point Naval Base in Rhode Island with the Police Athletic League and had the time of my life. I fired a machine gun, went on the JFK Aircraft Carrier and put out a flammable liquid fire in full firefighting gear. Later on, I became a firefighter.